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Apple pauses sales in Russia and stops all exports

People look at Apple devices in an Apple Store in New York City on Sunday, February 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
Apple on Tuesday announced it has paused all sales in Russia following officials in Ukraine urging the tech giant to isolate Russia in light of the invasion of Ukraine.

Updated March 1, 2022 at 6:15 PM ET

Apple has paused all sales inside of Russia and will stop all exports into the country in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The move represents the most dramatic action a Big Tech company has taken to economically squeeze Russia. It comes as governments in the U.S. and Europe along with a slew of companies have acted to isolate Russia as it escalates its conflict in Ukraine. "It's shocking. I did not expect Apple to take this step," said Gene Munster of investment firm Loup Ventures.Munster estimates that Russia represents only about 2% of Apple's global revenue. Still, that's more than $7 billion in sales for the company. iPhones are the third-most popular smartphone in Russia, behind Xiaomi and Samsung, according to research firm IDC."It's pretty unheard of for a company to stop selling its products, especially Apple, which is not one to weigh into political affairs," Munster said.An Apple spokesman on Tuesday confirmed to NPR that in addition to halting the sale of all Apple products inside of Russia, the company's popular payment service, Apple Pay, is being limited in the country. The sales ban affects online sales, since Apple does not have any physical stores in Russia. Media accounts backed by the Russian government, including RT and Sputnik, are now blocked in Apple's App Store, following similar moves to crackdown on Russian propaganda by Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. And despite pleas from the Russian government, Netflix says it is refusingto stream state government channels. But Apple's business restrictions announced go farther than any other tech company.People using Apple Maps inside of Ukraine will also notice some changes: Traffic and live incidents, two features that help people figure out the best way to travel, have been disabled as safety measures for Ukrainian citizens, according to Apple. "We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence," an Apple spokesman said in a statement. "We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region."Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister of Ukraine, sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking him to stop selling products and services to Russians in response to the invasion. Fedorov specifically also asked Cook to block access to Apple's App Store, according to a copy of the letter Fedorov shared on Twitter. Though Apple's actions are sweeping, they do not fully block Russians from accessing the App Store."That might have gone too far," Munster said. "They had to strike a balance while still making a bold statement, and they have." Editor's note: Apple is among NPR's financial supporters. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.